Holly began appearing on china, silver, and EAPG glassware during the 1850’s. During this time period, holly wasn’t associated with Christmas, but simply considered a variant foliage pattern.
As holly became more prominently associated with Christmas during the last quarter of the 19th century, European china manufacturers responded and began to export holly china to the U.S. market. Germany and France led the way and shipped, literally, tons of china to the U.S. from the 1850’s to the1930s.
Many were transfer patterns, but some were factory or studio painted which are the ‘crème de la crème’ among collectors. Some of the highest quality pieces were manufactured in Limoges, France and distributed by fine jewelry stores and upper end department stores. An average family would have only purchased one or two pieces a year. Only the extremely wealthy could have purchased complete sets. Extravagant pieces, such as hot chocolate sets, tankards and steins, candlesticks, children’s tea sets, pancake servers, eggnog bowls and pedestal punch bowls, were exported to the U.S.
Beginning in the early 1900’s, several Ohio potteries began producing a wide variety of holly transfer patterns. These were much more affordable, but not of the same quality.
Just as families through the years have cherished their holly china, present day collectors experience the joy of holly china in their displays and by accentuating the Christmas dinner table. Christmas dinner─the most memorable dinner of the year.